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Michelle Obama stumps for Nunn in US Senate race
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5 things to know about Michelle Obama's trip to GA
 
ATLANTA — During her trip Monday to Georgia, first lady Michelle Obama began her day at an Atlanta high school where she toured a college fair, met with a small group of students and held a "prep rally" before hitting the campaign trail to raise money and rally support for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Here are five things to know about Mrs. Obama's visit to Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta:
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During a tour of the school's college fair, Mrs. Obama walked around with four current students as they asked questions of the college recruiters.

"Alright, this is your show. I have a junior and I want to hear what you are asking," she said to the students, encouraging them to ask questions.

It wasn't the first time Mrs. Obama mentioned her daughters, Sasha and Malia. Later, she talked about discussions she has had with them about college.

"I try to tell my children it doesn't matter the name of the school. It has to be the right fit," she said, adding she would have liked to have visited more colleges before deciding on Princeton University. "I looked at brochures. I didn't know what I was getting into."
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As the group went from booth to booth, Mrs. Obama asked recruiters about the importance of SAT scores and opportunities for high school students to earn credit for college before they graduate.

Leading the group was Alexandria Jones, 18, a recent graduate of the high school who now attends Kennesaw State University. Jones told the first lady that she had taken several courses at Georgia State University before graduating high school.

Jones received credit for those classes and will be considered a sophomore next semester. She estimated those early courses will save her about $5,000 in college costs.

"At first it was scary but you really don't have to tell them you are an early college student. They treat you like a regular student," Jones said. "Most of the professors they were in shock — 'Wow, you are still in high school and taking classes here?' — So it really was a great  experience."
Bria Carrithers, a 21-year-old senior at Spellman College, was among a small group of recruiters meeting with high schoolers during the college fair, which drew about 100 or so students to the cafeteria before Mrs. Obama's visit.

Carrithers of Albany is among 75 college students from around the country selected as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, working to promote education and teacher diversity.

"The most important thing I tell students is: Education is key. We all have to have some higher education past a high school diploma in order to succeed in today's world," said Carrithers, who hopes to attend medical school and become a hematologist oncologist.

She said both her parents went to college while raising a family, which inspired her to work harder.

"It's important that you have that foundation and that support," Carrithers said. "If not for my parents pushing me, I don't know where I would be."
During the school rally, Mrs. Obama spoke about the challenges she faced growing up on the south side of Chicago. She told the students that her parents didn't attend college, but she set higher education as an early goal for herself and worked hard to accomplish it.

"You are no better or no different than me," she told the few hundred students gathered in the school gym. "I didn't have money growing up. I didn't grow up in a nice neighborhood. But I grew up and I am here."

She recalled waking up as early as 4 a.m. to catch the bus to her school, which was across town. She also recalled a high school counselor once told her she shouldn't apply to Princeton University.

"They told me I would never make it there, that I was setting my sights too high," she said. "I ended up showing that counselor how wrong she was because look at where I am right now."
During her speech, Mrs. Obama invoked the memory of Booker T. Washington High School's most famous graduate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

She told the story of how King, as a high school student, had to stand in the aisle in the back of the school bus even when there were empty seats in front and how that motivated him to study hard and pursue a degree at Morehouse College.

"And that education prepared him to lead a movement that tore down those Jim Crow laws and gave millions of folks across the country the rights they deserved," Mrs. Obama said. "Dr. King, Booker T. Washington, so many others worked and marched and risked their lives so that young people like you would have the chances that you have today."

She acknowledged that many of the students listening face challenges at home, at school and in their community but called on them to develop some "grit."

"It's your responsibility to carry out that legacy," she said. "Those are big responsibilities, but I want you to know that you're not doing this alone. That's why we're here."
Associated Press

ATLANTA — First lady Michelle Obama debuted on the 2014 campaign trail Monday in Georgia, where Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is working to pick up a key seat for Democrats.

The open Senate seat is a critical battleground in the national fight for control of the Senate, in which Republicans must gain six seats to win the majority. Businessman David Perdue has relentlessly tried to tie Nunn to President Barack Obama, who did not win Georgia in 2008 or 2012.

Mrs. Obama made the trip to boost voter turnout for Nunn among independents, minority and women voters. She told a large crowd gathered in a recreation center just steps from the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta that Nunn and Jason Carter, a Democrat running for governor, can win in November if just 50 Democrats per precinct who voted in 2008 and 2012 cast ballots this year.

“Barack won because record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up to vote. But then when the midterms came along and too many of our folks tuned out,” Mrs. Obama said. “That’s what folks on the other side are counting on because when you stay home, they win.”

During her speech, Mrs. Obama highlighted her husband’s accomplishments while also warning the crowd what the last two years of his presidency would look like if Republicans captured the Senate.

“Frankly if we lose these midterm elections, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we’ve started,” she said. “Things will be even worse in Washington. Instead of leaders coming together on behalf of hard-working families ... we’ll just see more conflict and more obstruction, more lawsuits and talk about impeachment, more votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act or even shut the government down.”

On the campaign trail, Democrats running for the Senate in states like Georgia, Kentucky and West Virginia have had to walk a fine line in demonstrating their independence to woo moderates while also energizing a base that remains supportive of the president’s agenda. And that’s where Mrs. Obama comes in.

“During the 2012 campaign, First lady Michelle Obama was more popular in some states than her husband,” said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist who led Obama’s re-election campaign in the South. “She generates an enormous amount of support from women and will bring the topic of public education to the forefront of campaigns in Georgia.”

To counter the GOP’s efforts, Nunn and other vulnerable Democrats are going against the president on issues like the Keystone XL oil pipeline and carbon emissions. Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, won’t talk about how she would have voted on Obama’s signature health care law, sticking instead to what she’d change about it.

“While Michelle Nunn is trying to distance herself from President Obama and Washington Democrats publicly, she clearly has no problem raising money from them directly on the taxpayers’ dime in order to deceive Georgians about her true allegiance to President Obama and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid,” said Perdue’s spokeswoman, Megan Whittemore.

Mrs. Obama’s visit was designed to pump up a voter registration effort led by the state party. Georgia Democrats have been hoping that an increase in out-of-state residents and a growing minority population would help them regain power after Republicans claimed every statewide office in 2010.

That year, in a competitive governor’s race, the Democrat lost by about 259,000 votes. Democrats are hoping that by use of targeted voter registration and outreach efforts, including contacting voters who only vote in presidential years, they will be able to make up the difference. In addition, they are working to reach an estimated 800,000 eligible voters who are black, Hispanic and Asian that for one reason or another are not registered.

And a change in early voting could also help lift Georgia Democrats in November. DeKalb County, one of the largest sources of Democratic votes, plans to add a Sunday to its early voting period, which would be the first county in the state to do so, according to state party Chair DuBose Porter. In 2012, DeKalb County alone represented just over 13 percent of Obama’s vote in Georgia.

“Democrats believe that the easier you make it for people to participate in their government, the better,” Porter said, adding he hopes every county does the same. “We’re for expanding the franchise to make sure that democracy actually works and we know when we do that a true reflection of the state will be represented.”

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